The high school football season kicks off with preseason practice starting on Monday. All the other fall sports – cross country, girls volleyball, golf, girls tennis and soccer – begin their preseasons on Wednesday.
Here’s some things to know about area football:
• It’s the fifth season for Maurice Douglass as coach at Springfield High School. Although the Wildcats (6-4 overall, 1-3 Greater Western Ohio Conference National East) didn’t advance to the playoffs, they were in contention until a stinging 7-3 Week 10 loss at Fairmont last season.
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It’s taken this long for the Wildcats to become a tough out in the GWOC, if not an annual divisional contender. Graduated is quarterback Leonard Taylor, whose future is defense at the University of Cincinnati. Back are offensive lineman Isaiah Gibson, who has multiple offers from Big Ten and Southeastern Conference programs and defensive back Moses Douglass (Kentucky commit), the coach’s son.
Winning a division title is a stretch, but landing a major upset and staying in playoff contention.
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• Ryan Haines pulled off the unthinkable, posting a perfect 10-0 regular season in his debut as Greeneview’s head coach last season. The Rams advanced to the playoffs for the fourth straight year, went unbeaten in the regular season for only the second time in program history and was ranked No. 5 in the final Associated Press state poll.
For all that, Greeneview could do no better than a No. 6 seed in the D-V playoffs because Mechanicsburg would be the only winning team Greeneview beat. Ohio Heritage Conference player of the year Nick Clevenger returns and the Rams figure to make another playoff appearance. Greeneview has taken over the role of OHC beast following great runs by Triad and Mechanicsburg.
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• Bellefontaine (10-2, 4-0) and newcomer Jonathan Alder (8-3, 3-1) flexed their might in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division and advanced to the postseason. It’s on Shawnee (5-5, 2-2), Kenton Ridge (6-4, 1-3) and Tecumseh (2-8, 0-4) to get back into Kenton Trail contention and the playoffs.
Bellefontaine and Alder both represented the CBC at the highest level. Bellefontaine defeated Alder 19-6 in Week 7 and was knocked out of the playoffs by eventual D-III state runner-up Dresden Tri-Valley 36-30. Alder was KO’ed in the first round by eventual D-IV state runner-up Clinton-Massie.
Indian Lake (7-4, 4-0) was the best of the CBC Mad River Division. It’s on Urbana (4-6, 3-1), Ben Logan (5-5, 2-2), Northwestern (4-6, 1-3) and Graham (1-9, 0-4) to push the Lakers.
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• Two area games will be televised live on ABC/Fox 45’s Thursday Night Lights. In Week 8 it’s Shawnee at Kenton Ridge and Week 9 will feature Catholic Central at Greeneview.
This will be the third season for the popular series and always ensures a capacity and enthusiastic crowd, not to mention a rare and plentiful opposing coach section.
The games all start at 7 p.m. and will be aired live on Channel 45.2, Channel 995 (Spectrum) and Channel 44 (Dish).
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• There is just one area coaching change. That’s significant, because there were five to begin the 2017 season.
Jake Buchholtz succeeds Tim Houseman, who resigned after three seasons at Northeastern. A 2007 Kenton Ridge grad, Buckholtz was promoted from the Jets’ defensive coordinator.
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Graham (Shane Cahill), Greenon (Josh Wooten), Northwestern (Shane Carter), Southeastern (Payton Printz) and Urbana (Carleton Cotner) all had new head coaches this time last year.